June 1, 2013
I have been in my home office for the past 9 hours just staring at the wall and trying to figure out how to write everything that has happened in the last 3 days. I haven’t spoken to anyone in my family . . . even Esme. After everything that has happened, she said that if vampires could turn whiter than they already are, I was the color of snow. Ever since then I have all but locked myself in my home office and stared out the window. I can’t believe . . . I can’t put into words . . . I . . . will try to tell you all of it, but it’ll take more than one entry for sure.
Last I wrote in here, Nessie broke her leg after falling off a motorcycle she thought she could ride. I tell you, teenagers! Plus we had that weird encounter in the ER between Charlotte and Ashley. Since then, Nessie has mastered the crutches and even hops around on one foot sometimes. Emmett teased her about how silly she looks hopping around. Her response? She smacked him upside the head with her crutch. That sent everyone—including Rosalie—into a fit of laughter. That has been the only bright moment in this whole mess. Well, that and the return of Alice, Jasper, Rogue, and Alexander. Now our family really is complete.
So the day after that, Ashley called out sick saying she had a cold, and Charlotte called out with food poisoning. All right that was fine. Then a huge flower arrangement arrived in my office; it didn’t have a note. At first I thought someone had made a mistake and it was meant for someone else but when I asked the delivery guy about it, he said it was addressed to me. Hmmm, strange. I went about my rounds only to return to my office to find three more flower arrangements; none of them had cards. I decided that it was a bit weird, so I gave them to some of my patients, who were very happy to receive them.
Then Betsy came into my office with a puzzled expression. She said that 4 other nurses called out with food poisoning from other floors. Apparently, the source of this was traced to a bun cake in one of the break rooms. But no one knew who brought it. On top of that, my phone’s voice mail line was blinking. When I listened to it, it was Bill Connolly. He told me that in the last 36 hours, throughout the entire hospital, there were 8 code reds, 3 of which didn’t make it; 4 were saved in the nick of time by Ashley who was working the night shift along with another nurse. This was a very large number. And it seemed to be increasing. Bill was suspecting foul play, as was I. But who would want to harm the patients and why?
Betsy and I discussed it at length. Something weird was going on and we needed to get to the bottom of it. We couldn’t get the authorities involved until we had cold hard facts that this wasn’t just some really freaky coincidence but that someone was intentionally trying to harm or kill the patients. As we were discussing this my office phone rang. It was Charlotte.
“Dr. Cullen. I hope I’m not interrupting you,” Charlotte said. She sounded awful.
“No, not at all, Charlotte. How are you feeling?” I asked, concerned.
She sighed. “Actually, pretty darn rotten. That’s what I wanted to talk to you about.”
“Do you need something? I can make a house call or do you want me to send an ambulance?” I was sitting there gripping the phone. Betsy sat looking at me with wide, worried eyes.
“I don’t think that’ll be necessary—I hope. I think I have it under control. I’ve been throwing up a lot . . . food poisoning sucks.” She all but groaned.
“Charlotte, do you mind if I put you on speaker? Betsy is here with me.”
“No not at all.” She waited until I put her on speaker. “Howdy Betsy.”
“Hi, honey. I’m so sorry you’re feeling ill,” Betsy said, voice laced with worry.
“So what is it Charlotte?” I asked.
“Well, I have always trusted my gut Dr. Cullen, and it has never failed me. I don’t think this was just a run of the mill food poisoning. I think it was done on purpose. Especially since I heard from the other 4 nurses out; our symptoms are exactly the same. I was wondering, if you haven’t tossed that bun cake out, if you could test it for something,” she said.
Betsy and I stared at each other in shock. Could it be? Could this be deliberate? What the hell was going on in this hospital? Instead of helping people we had patients coding left, right, and center. And now our nursing staff was being poisoned? Unfortunately, we had tossed out the bun cake, but I had another idea.
“We’ve tossed the bun cake, but I want to do something else; I’ll be at your house in about 10 minutes. I want to draw your blood and have it sent to the lab to test for every poison out there that has these kinds of symptoms. Is that all right with you?” I asked.
“If it’s not too much trouble, absolutely!” Charlotte said.
“No trouble whatsoever. But let’s keep this between us three. I will only let Bill know, as he’s the director of the hospital and needs to be kept abreast of every issue. But otherwise, no one else here knows anything. We all good with that?” I asked them both. They both agreed.
I then grabbed the blood drawing kit in my office along with some anti-nausea medication and ran out of the the hospital to my car. I put it in drive and zipped out of the parking lot. I didn’t bother paying attention to the speed limits and was at Charlotte’s condo complex in the 10 minutes I promised. I got out and locked my car. I didn’t know why, but I felt like I was being watched. I couldn’t see anyone, though. I followed the signs to where her door was and rang the doorbell. Charlotte opened the door and was even more pale and gaunt then I thought she would be; this was bad. She let me in and then looked right and left before closing the door. Before I could ask why she explained.
“I just had a very interesting visitor: Ashley. I didn’t know how she figured out where I lived. Only you, Dr. Connolly, my boyfriend, and maybe Betsy know where I live. I haven’t really told anyone. She not only found the condo, but the right door. Usually people get lost but I felt like she’s been here before. She literally rang the doorbell a minute after I hung up with you. It was spooky,” she explained quietly.
“What did she want?” I asked with raised eyebrows.
“She wanted to see how I was feeling. I asked why she couldn’t just pick up the phone and call. She said she was in the neighborhood. Why would she be here? She lives on the other side of town and isn’t she out with a cold? Like . . . it doesn’t make sense to me,” she voiced, shaking her head.
She was right. This was weird.
I walked over to a table and proceeded to open up the testing kit and Charlotte sat in the chair next to me, extending her arm for me to draw blood. I told her about the code reds and the sudden increase of them. She was just as puzzled as I. She mentioned she felt like she was in the twilight zone. No kidding, I felt the same way. While we were talking, I drew her blood, and then gave her the proper medication for nausea, which she took gratefully. Afterwards, I walked over to the door and as she opened it for me I wished her well, giving her a small hug before leaving. I walked to my car still feeling like I was under a microscope and looked around before getting in.
I got back to the hospital and sent the blood work in myself, filling out the paper work and everything. I also mentioned that this was a time sensitive issue and was a priority above all else. I still knew that, because this was not your run of the mill blood work panel, it would take the lab a day or two to get it back to me. I still felt like I was doing something to help solve at least one mystery. Now, how the hell was I going to figure out what was going on with the coding patients? This was giving me a headache, and I haven’t had one since becoming a vampire.
I decided to look at all of my patients and then just go home. Betsy promised to finish up whatever I didn’t finish. She figured I’d had a long enough day. Before I went home though, I stopped in Bill Connolly’s office, closed the door, and had a nice long talk with him about all of this. His eyes were just as wide as Betsy’s when he’d heard the whole Charlotte story. We were going to be extra vigilant about who’s on which shift and who’s where in general.
When Bill and I finished talking, I bid him goodnight and went home. The sun was just setting so it was still relatively bright outside as I got into my car and headed home. What a day! As I pulled into the driveway, I was looking forward to a quiet night at home . . . that was not to be. I saw Esme sitting on the porch; Alice, Jasper, Bella, and Edward were with her. They all looked concerned. Now what?
“Carlisle, you better come inside,” Edward said.
“Why? What’s going on? Is Esme okay?” I asked, looking at my wife with fear in my eyes.
“I’m fine honey, but you should go inside,” Esme said with a sigh. She pointed toward the living room.
“Wha—“ I didn’t get a chance to ask the question. As I walked into the living room and my mouth all but dropped open. You couldn’t see the living room, actually. Because in every nook and cranny there were flower arrangements. It looked like hundreds of them. Then Esme handed me a huge stack of little cards that had come with each arrangement. As I tore my eyes away from the temporary botanical garden that was now my living room, I was finally able to focus on the cards. As I read each one, a chill ran down my spine. Here’s what some of them said:
“You mean the world to me.”
“You’re so sexy.”
“I can’t wait to get you alone. It’s only a matter of time.”
“She was never good enough for you; I’m better.”
“You are mine, now, and forever!”
“We belong together.”
“I love you!!!”
As I took everything in, Edward brought over a chair that I all but slumped into as Esme came up behind me and started rubbing my shoulders. To say I was tense was an understatement. I think a boulder would have been softer at this point. The ironic part is that none of them were signed with a name. It was just a little message scrawled on a little white card, and that’s it. There was, however, no doubt in mind about who sent them, as well as those that came that morning to my office at the hospital. Those were just the first salvo before the overwhelming flow came to the house. Esme said about 4 trucks came simultaneously and delivered them all.
No one else spoke; we just took it all in. Then suddenly, Alice’s head snapped toward the door and her eyes narrowed. Edward’s followed suit. We all looked at them and waited for an explanation. Then I saw a sly smile appear on Alice’s face.
“She’s on the property,” Alice said, her smile was downright evil.
“What part of no trespassing does she not get?” Bella muttered.
“Ashley is here?” I whispered.
Alice nodded. “But unfortunately for her, she has just come face to face with the worst person she could have run into out of all of us here.”
When we didn’t say anything but continued to look at her with a blank expression, she said, “Rogue.”
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Ashley’s new hairstyle: